Getting Organized Makes Cents,

by: Amy Hannold
247Moms Frugal Living Editor

How many times have I said, “When I get the time, I’ll get organized?” If you’re anything like me, many times over. I’m here to tell you that small changes can save us big – in time and money. Think of the little, often repeated “back step” tasks you do as a part of your daily routine. Have you stopped to count up the time, money and/or energy you’ve wasted on these counter-productive steps?

Let’s take care of a few of those right now. Now, yes – believe me, you’ll reach those bigger goals much faster if you follow along with this today.

Maintain a positive attitude. Look for the “right” and “accomplished” in your life, no matter how small or mundane. At the beginning and at the end of your day, count your blessings and small steps in the right direction. You’ll survive life’s little off-tracks and sleep better when you choose a “glass half full” mentality. Keep a list of the prayers answered and needs met, as well as the deficits in your time or money. Realizing that things have worked out in the past will keep hope alive.

Be your own coach. Remember, science tells us that it takes 21 days to make a new habit. Just as you might for your kids, mark your own milestones in some encouraging way. Reward yourself at “quarter” marks along your journey. “Think 21”, and you’ll get there. Don’t quit. If you do stumble, pick yourself back up, refocus and move forward.

Write your goals and plans on paper. People who succeed write down their goals and plans. It’s one thing to think about it, it’s another to see it in writing. Plus, writing your goals in a notebook begins your new habit of putting your plans on paper – in one place, where you can refer to them for focus and reflection.

Now that you’re better motivated, let’s take a few affordable steps towards saving time and money.

Get a “go-to” notebook. A small, spiral notebook is the simplest form, or there are day planner notebooks and larger spiral notebooks. For those with technology at hand, become familiar with the organizing features of your smart phone or similar.

Devote a beginning page to your goals and your action steps towards success. Break your goals down into reasonable, inspiring steps. Don’t tackle “Organize my House”. Instead, go for “clean the coat closet” or “organize the freezer”. Give yourself a deadline, again reasonable and fair to your daily routine. Back pages of your notebook or planner can be the place to put your “2010 Goals”. Remember, your new habit of notebook life-planning will get you there!

Your “go-to” notebook replaces all those small, misplaced and left along the way lists. You’re saving time, saving money by putting your thoughts and plans all in one place. No searching, no starting over – and the best part is that you’ll have something to mark your progress at you get these things done. Keep your traveling calendar updated, including special days of yours and others. Integrate these details into your “to-do” list for each new week. Be ready for those days and have time to celebrate!

Once planning/daily task notebooks are full, remove irrelevant pages, keeping those of later-reference significance. Date the notebooks and file away.

A “Home Notebook” is the home-version of your “go-to” portable notebook. In this notebook, we are going to keep pages for website usernames/passwords, a list of our favorite breakfasts, school calendars/contact lists, and action forms for other major categories in our lives. Completed forms, as well as blank forms of the same, will de-clutter counters and increase free time.
Other life-changing organizational tips:

In the kitchen: gather appliance manuals into 3-ring notebooks. Gather all of those magazine and pamphlet recipes into one notebook. When you’re menu-planning, you’ll have one organized place to peruse through, instead of an avalanche. Once every week or two weeks, sit down to go over the recipes you’ve collected, making a grocery list (in your “go-to” notebook) to ensure you have the ingredients. Make a designated space for keys, phones, lunchboxes and library books. Toss duplicate kitchen tools and organize drawers – you’ll save time and angst when cooking.
Motivate the Team: Get your kids (and everyone else) a notebook – make getting organized on paper a team effort. Keep larger home projects in their own notebook. Each child could have a 3-ring notebook to hold their school and extra-curricular activities. Place their returned work in the back for mailing to relatives or using for wrapping paper.

Purses, Un-Cluttered: Multi-task and clean out your purse while on the phone, watching tv, etc. Find individual pouches for coins, makeup, first-aid/grooming tools, and snacks. In the car, keep a lidded box to toss unnecessary portions of your purse to alleviate weight and chaos when possible. (Your lidded box is a great place to store emergency extras of snacks, coins, kid-needs, etc.). Expensive convenience stores and labor-intensive “quick trips” to the store will become a thing of the past.

Magazines, Mail and Papers: Sort your mail once. Place “To-Reads” and short “To-Dos” in an accordion file meant for the car. Utilize a maintained counter file (or filing cabinet) for the “To-Files” and “To-Pays”. Shred and recycle the rest, now. When your kids bring home papers, follow the same sorting routine. Don’t let counter clutter accumulate.

Inventory, Inventory – and Record: Parents can best instill good organizational and money habits by modeling that we own what’s important to us, and we take care of what we own. Buy what you can reasonably store, use and enjoy. Remove those things gone unused, donating to fill a need. Inventory gift closets, freezers, clothes closets, food pantries, and supplies areas. When you’re short on something, add it to your shopping lists. When a need arises, go to your inventory lists instead of searching and re-purchasing. Kids will begin to do the same, and you’ll have less of their needs to find and re-buy time and again.

Add up all that time and money saved. You’ve created less stress, more accomplishment and “earned” a whole lot of resources you’d otherwise waste by neglecting your goals. Congratulations, go and celebrate with some much earned family or “Mom-time”.

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